It took less than five months for Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler and failed Republican candidate in Nevada, to reinvent himself from a soft-spoken Lacoste polo-wearing family man to a “Texas tough” bull-riding cowboy.
The spectacular transformation can be seen by comparing two different ads for each of his congressional bids.
In the first ad released May 2020 for his race in Nevada’s 3rd congressional district, Rodimer looks like he’s pitching a wholesome family sitcom (minus the fact that he begins the ad by setting the record straight on his arrest for battery — really self-inflicted stuff).
In his ad released last week for Texas’ 6th congressional district in the Dallas area, Rodimer sports a cowboy hat and rides a bull for about five seconds before being bucked off. He then derides communist Democrats in Washington with a distinctly new southern accent that sounds like he inhales cigars for a living.
The shapeshifting act was not lost on anyone, and it earned Rodimer some amusing national headlines. “GOP candidate from New Jersey accused of pandering,” wrote the Washington Post. CNN ran a short unflattering segment over the new cowboy persona, which the Rodimer campaign proceeded to post on its YouTube page, except they edited out any footage or mention that he ever stepped foot in Nevada. “Bro why did you post this,” read one comment on the video. “Why did you do that to yourself.”
Unfortunately, Texans are pretty used to that feeling of secondhand embarrassment that comes with some of the ridiculous political ads that are seasonally released in the state.
There’s the classic “Big John” ad by Sen. John Cornyn, which features sepia-toned footage of the Senator riding a horse while a chorus repeats his name over and over again like a Gregorian chant.
Then there’s Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller who spent $55,000 redesigning his office to look like a museum wildlife exhibit.
In 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz cooked bacon using an AR-15 while campaigning for president in Iowa.
“There is nothing I enjoy more than on weekends cooking breakfast with the family,” Cruz says in the video. “Of course in Texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks.”
And speaking of fake cowboy personas, no list is complete with the Yale-educated George W. Bush, who purchased a ranch a year before running for president and would regularly take photoshoots clearing brush while in office.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org